Overall Progress Report: April 30, 2021

May 1, 2021

This week felt weird, but in a familiar way. It's part of a bigger pattern I've noticed in myself.

  1. I find something to improve and I work at it.
  2. My performance improves for a while.
  3. I suddenly have a bad night.
  4. I notice that I've fallen back into some old habits.
  5. I notice that I didn't notice in the moment that I'd fallen back into those old habits, which makes me wonder if I'll ever learn to notice them in time to do something about it.
  6. I begin to wonder whether the improvement was an illusion: was it temporary because I was merely distracted from the limiting beliefs that control me?
  7. I wonder whether I really have hit the limit of my performance.

I'm aware of Carol Dweck's fixed/growth mindset model, so does this pattern show evidence that I'm trapped in a fixed mindset? Does it show evidence that I'm breaking out of a fixed mindset? Is it just a sign of impatience? I don't know—and as we've learned by now, when I don't understand, I'm not happy.

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In league play this week:

It seemed like one of those nights where the mistakes came at the worst time. I cleanup all three sets of aces with no conscious effort, but I followed up at least 4 single strikes and both doubles with an open frame. The first game felt like an average performance with bad lack that ended up at 217, but the other two games felt very familiar: 80% on the head pin with a low strike rate and missing easy spares and for no obvious reason.

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Even a few days later I'm having trouble brushing this performance off as horrendously bad luck. Part of me wants to wallow in the notion that this is me crashing back down to earth after a month of performing over my head. And it illustrates a problem I've not yet got past: the feeling that something is holding me back mentally and if I could just figure out what that is, then I could get past it and unleash the kraken. The hilarious thing, of course, is that this feeling itself could be the thing holding me back. When Russell's paradox shows up in real life like this, I have to admire the universe's sense of humor.

And here is where I feel stuck. How do I get past this idea? More positive self-talk? More meditation? Therapy?! And then there's the paradox: as long as I keep looking for what's holding me back mentally, I am clinging to the idea that something is holding me back mentally, so it becomes a self-reinforcing belief. In principle, I merely have to let this idea go. But how? It seems real to me.

Sigh.

While I try to figure this out, I can at least make note of some easier-to-address things that came out of this performance:

This gives me something to try next week: to remind myself to connect with the feeling of comfort and aggressiveness instead of reminding myself to grip the ball correctly and throw the ball out farther. Maybe this past week's performance is easily explained as going through the motions instead of putting my energy into it. I can fix that!

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I wrote recently about visualization and I've been doing more of this after my sitting meditation. This week I'll focus my mental rehearsal on that feeling of comfort and aggressiveness. If this helps, then it will mean having strengthened the habit of feeling aggressive when I bowl. I imagine it would be helpful for me to have that habit rather than needing to remind myself to do it. And maybe that's the thing that's been holding me back.

Dammit! I fell in the trap again. Or did I just figure it out?

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Do any of these struggles sound familiar to you? Did you get past them? What did you do? Either I need a trick or I need to stop looking for a trick—but then "stop looking for a trick" might be the trick. It's complicated.